The NY Philharmonic "Concerts in the Parks" summertime festival should have gone out with a bang -- literally, by colorful Grucci fireworks (we prefer Gucci, tbh). Instead, it went out with a soggy, curt, almost panicky "that's all folks" issued from a microphone after Mahler's 1st Symphony was suddenly silenced halfway between 3rd base and home plate. To be fair, there was lightning and a large brass/horns section.
And so the 45th season of Concerts in the Parks comes to a close (the "parks" part, at least...there are still two more indoor, free performances in Queens and Staten Island) fireworks halted, and Mahler's 1st symphony still hanging unfinished in the muggy July evening air.
Music Director Designate Alan Gilbert, incoming beast master/lion tamer of the New York Philharmonic, conducted the concert series for the second time, a teasing showcase of his Beethoven, Mozart, Copland, and Mahler that rounded out the series (comprising of two performances in Central Park, one in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, and one in Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park).
Though the free outdoor concerts really aren't about the music (as much as we might pretend they are) -- reverberating as they are in uneven waves from the inelegant amplification system that swallow the orchestra and regurgitate blocks of noise in a bullying wall of sound. It's not about the precision or the nuance that Gilbert extracts from the talented Phils (that we know he's capable of) because really, the sound's way too manipulated. No, the concerts are more about New York City supporting their home team players, the NY Phils, the Yankees of classical music, the gorgeous spectrum of NYC's truly diverse crowds converging -- and the way that the massive crowds self regulate in the face of such insurmountable chaos.
Native son Gilbert showed-up in a cream-colored jacket and black pants, while his orchestra took a more relaxed and appropriate route...we saw black jeans and leggings, white tunics and crisp cotton shirts that peppered the players.
Baritone Nathan Gunn was the soloist for the first work, Aaron Copland's "Old American Songs", the highlight being the final work of five, "Ching-a-Ring Chaw" to which Gunn threw himself into with great cadence and enthusiasm.
The final work was Mahler's First Symphony: an overall languid, sort of distracted reading, which perfectly matched the swampy mid-July weather. We wished that the generously organized season could have gone out with a bang, but we'll take the NY Philharmonic anyway we can get them, be it on a soggy stage, in the middle of Central Park, or in a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox.
Now here's Whoopie Goldberg munching on a sub!
Click the link below for more pictures from the event!